Political Cartoons Done The Right Way

On February 7, 2018, the Albuquerque Journal published on its editorial page an inflammatory political cartoon by national syndicated political cartoonist Sean Delonas depicting a frightened white couple holding their hands up in the air apparently being robbed by two MS-13 gang members pointing a gun at the couple, and depicting a terrorist strapped with lighted bomb fuses and holding a bloody machete.

The man is quoted telling his wife: “Now Honey … I believe they prefer to be called ‘Dreamers’ … or future Democrats …”

The cartoon sent the clear, false and inflammatory message that dreamers and Democrats are criminal gang members and terrorists willing to kill or commit suicide to kill.

The political cartoon was from a nationally syndicated cartoonist with no understanding of New Mexico nor of its communities.

The cartoon was swiftly condemned by readers and elected officials, both Republican and Democrat, as being “misguided”, “bigoted”, and described as an example of “ignorance, racism and hatred”.

A protest erupted over the cartoon at the Journal Center and others called for people to cancel their Albuquerque Journal subscriptions.

Within two days, the Albuquerque Journal editors issued an apology and said they would better screen political cartoons it publishes on the Albuquerque Journal editorial page.

I remember in 2015 when two terrorist forced their way into the offices of the French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

Armed with rifles and other weapons, they killed 12 people and injured 11 others at the newspaper.

It could happen here in the United States if we are not careful.


After the Journal’s publication of the controversial political cartoon, I recalled that I was the subject of seven political cartoons by John Trever when I was on the City Council in the late 1980s and later from 2001 to 2013 when I went to work for the city and ran for Mayor.

I have been an Albuquerque Journal subscriber for 35 years and throughout my 27 year career as a public and elected official.

For close to 35 years, John Trever was the political cartoonist for the Albuquerque Journal, is retired, and was nationally recognized winning awards as one of the best political cartoonist in the United States.

Trever, being from here, has a clear understanding of New Mexico and its people and most importantly understands New Mexico politics and its diverse people.

I cannot recall anyone of John Trever’s cartoons ever generating the level and harsh criticism as has the Sean Delonas cartoon nor the Albuquerque Journal ever issuing an apology for a John Trevor cartoon.

I was the subject of seven (7) Trevor cartoons when I served on the Albuquerque City Council from 1986 to 1989 and from 2001 to 2013 when I was a Deputy City Attorney and later ran for Mayor in 2013.

Below are all the political cartoons where I was depicted with a narrative on each one:


Below is my favorite Trevor cartoon of me. I burst out laughing when I saw it the morning it was published. Trever told me he dressed me as “Dennis the Menace” because of what I said about the Mayor’s press spokesman Mike Santullo, a former and well know radio talk show host. After reading my comments and opinion, Mike Santullo fired off a profanity laced letter threatening to sue me and it was given to the press. Former Mayor Shultz Spokesman Mike Santullo is depicted as a pit bull going after me while I was intentionally provoking him with a stick and giving him the “raspberries”. Any one that knows me knows I am not that way! (SARCASM ABSOLUTELY INTENDED) Back then Mike and I were exchanging back and forth some very harsh words about each other and the press had a field day. The caption reads “Dear, dear, look at that vicious animal threatening the Dinelli boy! I tell you they should ban those pit bulls” as the couple drove by “Schutz City Yard”. Over the years, Mike and I have mellowed and we are friends, but damn we sure did accomplished a lot back then despite our differences and ourselves!



Below is another Trever cartoon published by the Journal when I was a city councilor. The “black rose incident” was when two APD union officials went to Santa Fe and placed a “black rose” on the desk of a State Representative Cisco McSorley, now a State Senator, with a cartoon of a person with a knife in his back that had the caption “Thank you for all your support.” The police union was upset that the State Representative did not vote for a measure they wanted. A “black rose” symbolizes death, hatred or farewell in some cultures and traditions. I was asked by the Albuquerque Journal what I thought about what the union officials did and I said the black rose and the cartoon were intimidation and threatening of an elected official. I also said I felt that the Union reps should be fired. All hell broke loose but I again thought the cartoon was funny. The caption says “A little early for the balloon fiesta, isn’t it?” with me blowing up a hot air balloon in the shape of a black rose as I stood in front of City Hall.



The below Trever cartoon was published when I was Chairman of the City Council Finance Committee. We were faced with making $10 million in cuts to a $450 million budget. Mayor Schultz was upset with me and the City Council for doing it and made it known in uncertain terms. The cartoon has Mayor Schulz sitting in a barber chair while his hair was being cut and I was pictured sitting down on a stool and giving him a manicure and clipping his fingernails. Schultz was known to get manicures. The caption reads “Albuquerque Chainsaw Manicure” with me clipping Mayor Schultz’s fingernails. The barber appears to be longtime City Councilor Pat Baca who I served with on the City Council at the time.



The below John Trever cartoon was published by the Journal in 1987 when I was on the City Council. The city council was having public hearings on the “Quality of Life” 10-year quarter cent tax that we enacted to fund the construction of the Balloon Museum, the Children’s Science Museum, the Botanic Gardens and the Aquarium/Bio park as well as acquisition of critical open space in the Sandia Foothills to complete the Elena Gallegos area. The tax package also originally had funding for a performing arts center that was later voted down by the public. “The Harmonic Convergence” was the name given to one of the world’s first globally synchronized meditation events to coincide with the planets aligning in the solar system. (No joke). Pictured from left to right are City Councilor Steve Gallegos, Mayor Ken Schultz, City Councilor Fran Hill, myself and City Councilor Pat Baca, with all of us beating drums. We are chanting “Quality of Life … Quarter Cent, Quality of Life Quarter Cent, Ommm” and the caption reads “HARMONIC CONVERGENCE AT CITY HALL”.



This Trever cartoon was published when I was a city councilor sponsoring zoning regulations restricting pornography shops and theaters to only certain zones. To the left is an XXX bookstore and a “city hall adult theatre” is across the street with a marquee that reads “NOW PLAYING ‘Erogenous Zoning’. See city council do kinky things with first amendment”. What made me crack up is the ad poster on the right that says “Dinelli Does Central”. Also note the fire hydrant that appears to look like two large breasts. The caption from the XXX bookstore owners “Well, there goes the neighborhood” is classic. State Senator Manny Aragon, Pro Temp of the State Senate at the time, was also the City’s trial attorney appointed by Mayor Schultz and he essentially spoke against the ordinance changes saying we would be violating people’s constitutional rights of free speech. To me it was well settled law in the country that Cities had the right to designate zoning where XXX rated businesses could be located. Senator Aragon became visibly infuriated and upset with me when I asked him during the City Council meeting if he was representing the XXX rated businesses or the City. After our very public exchange, our friendly relationship was never the same. The zoning ordinance changes passed and as I understand it are still the law limiting where XXX stores can be allowed in the City. During the next legislative session, Senator Aragon summoned me to meet with him in his Senate Pro Temp Office and we had a very blunt talk and agreed never to discuss matters again with each other in public. It took years for us to set things aside and be civil to each other. That’s politics.



This Trever cartoon was published by the Journal when I was Deputy City Attorney. At the time I had filed over 129 civil lawsuits suing over 300 graffiti vandals and their parents to collect city cleanup costs and damages. We settled virtually all the lawsuits and collected about $250,000 in damages and lawsuits stopped the graffiti. This Trever cartoon was published when I filed a civil lawsuit against the vandals setting off fireworks in the Bosque and the lawyer in the glass looks a lot like me.



The below John Trever cartoon was published in 2013 during the Mayor’s race. Mayor Berry was said to be “Mr. Positive” on Albuquerque, very personable and likeable but in total denial about high crime rates, the Albuquerque economy and a police department out of control and declining in numbers. I was said to be a pit bull prosecutor, and retired APD Sergeant Paul Heh was known for being gruff and saying “I call bullshit!” at a debate forum sponsored by NAIOP, a contractor and development group. The NAIOP forum was filled with a large number of Berry supporters and city personnel and I remember being “booed” by about half of the NAIOP audience when I said I supported union participation in city building projects. Notice how Trevor blacked out the “s” word. My eyebrows made me look mean or angry as did the expression on my face. Throughout the campaign I was always being told I never smiled, was too serious to be running for office and that I was just not “likeable” enough. I was told that I needed to start smiling more if I was ever going to get elected. The problem for me was I could not help being a former prosecutor, I could not talk about the city’s high crime rates and our poor economy with a fake smile on my face. One comment made by Berry during that NAIOP forum was when he said words to the effect “I do not want to live in a world that these gentlemen live in, a world where there is a cloud to every silver lining.” One thing for sure, Sergeant Heh and I never lied to voters about what was happening with our high crime rates and the economy. Notwithstanding, Mayor Berry won by a landslide with only 19% of the voters voting in the lowest municipal voter turnout since 1977. Four years later, people finally figured out Berry and believed what Paul Heh and I were saying and Berry left office disliked with an approval rating in the low 30%.



John Trever has published four compilations of his cartoons and this is a photo of the cover of the one published in 2007 that he autograph for me. The title “Manana Republic” says it all especially having Tony Anaya, Bruce King, Gary Carruthers, Bill Richardson, Gary Johnson, Manny Aragon, Jeff Bingaman and Pete Domenici sitting in a hot air balloon with the state capitol building as the gondola and they are all pointing in different directions. All that would be needed now is Susana Martinez eating and throwing pizza from the gondola.

You can contact John Trevor or the Albuquerque Journal, PO Box Drawer J, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87103 for more information on the availability of Trevors books. The are a must have for all New Mexico politicians and a cartoon history of New Mexico politicos.



I believe most elected officials would say they considered it an honor to be the subject of a John Trever political cartoon and they were often framed as a badge of honor, which is what I did myself.

Mr. Trever was able to make a point without being mean and hateful and his cartoons are downright funny.

John Treveor is pretty much retired and on occasion you will see one of his cartoons in the Albuquerque Journal.

Perhaps one day the Albuquerque Journal will find and hire another like Tever because in the age of Trump and what is happening in Albuquerque, we could sure use a cartoonist like Trever again and we all need a good laugh now and then.

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Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.